Caisteal Chiosmuil/Kisimul Castle :: Shared Description

Dating from probably the 15thC, this castle is 160m from the shore at Castlebay and accessible only by boat; at low tide it is surrounded by a rim of rock, but at high tide only the walls of the castle are visible. A 1427 charter records that Barra was given to Gill-Adhamnain Mcneil by Alexander MacDonald, the Lord of the Isles, and the oldest parts of the castle that remain seem to date from then, although the rock may have been occupied earlier. After the collapse of the Lordship of the Isles in the 15thC there was much lawlessness and conflict in the highlands and islands, and the Macneils acquired a reputation for piracy. By the 18thC the clan chief had moved to a more comfortable house on Barra, and the castle fell into ruins, and its walls were stripped by boats for ballast. In 1837 the insolvent chief sold the island and his ancestral seat.
Robert Lister MacNeil succeeded as clan chief in 1914 and in 1937 he bought Kisimul and the restoration began, and continued until his death in 1970. It was not clear how the castle had originally looked, and some modern techniques and compromises were used to make the castle a home, while keeping to the spirit of the old building. Since 2000 the castle has been in the care of Historic Scotland under a lease.

Its restoration began in the early 20thC and in 2000 it was put into the care of Historic Scotland under lease.
by M J Richardson
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15 images use this description:

NL6698 : The Barra lifeboat and Kisimul Castle by M J Richardson
NL6697 : Kisimul Castle courtyard by M J Richardson
NL6698 : Houses at Castlebay/Bàgh a' Chaisteil, Barra by M J Richardson
NL6697 : Long drop in Kisimul Castle by M J Richardson
NL6697 : Kisimul Castle from the southeast by M J Richardson
NL6697 : Inside Kisimul Castle by M J Richardson
NL6698 : Castlebay/Bàgh a' Chaisteil by M J Richardson
NL6697 : Kisimul Castle from the south by M J Richardson
NL6697 : Caisteal Chiosmuil/Kisimul Castle by M J Richardson
NL6697 : Barra - Castlebay - Kisimul Castle by Rob Farrow
NL6697 : Chapel and mortuary at Kisimul by M J Richardson
NL6697 : Kisimul Castle, viewed from the east by M J Richardson
NL6697 : Kisimul Castle at high tide by M J Richardson
NL6697 : Caisteal Chiosmuil by Sandy Gerrard
NL6697 : Carved crest at Kisimul Castle by M J Richardson


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Created: Tue, 11 Aug 2015, Updated: Fri, 14 Aug 2015

The 'Shared Description' text on this page is Copyright 2015 M J Richardson, however it is specifically licensed so that contributors can reuse it on their own images without restriction.